Up and Adam
Up and Adam
“Hi! Hiii!” Adam greeted each passerby with a cookie and his amazing smile.
More people came!
Some rode, others strolled and a few rolled up.
The line grew longer.
The laughter grew louder.
And the crowd grew cheerier.
With a storm having necessitated a major clean-up effort, the mayor of Portville implores citizens to pitch in to help. “It’s time to get to work,” she says. “Up and at ‘em!” A young boy is watching the mayor’s television broadcast, and it so happens that boy’s name is Adam and his dog’s name is Up. The boy is convinced he heard the mayor say, “It’s time to get to work, Up and Adam.” In the company of his friendly pet, Adam ventures outside to cheerfully assist with the clean-up. His infectious smile soon has others smiling and enjoying the work, too, and so more and more people pitch in to help. Up and Adam is a heart-warming story about a dynamic duo with a strong community spirit. It is a good book to teach all people—children and adults alike—that we can all play a role in making our communities better, stronger, friendlier places to be.
Debbie Zapata is the author of Up and Adam. Her own son is named Adam. He was born with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. Zapata says her Adam is “everyone’s friend” who “brightens people’s days.” The book character is obviously based on the real-life child. The book cover flap and the Kids Can Press media release both identify the book character as a boy with Down syndrome; however, in the actual book itself, this is never specifically mentioned. I like this detail (or, perhaps more specifically, the absence of the detail) because it means the depiction of Adam is such that there is nothing unique about him other than that he is a happy, kind, cheerful, and helpful person. This book provides an excellent example of inclusion. In her author’s note at the back of the book, Zapata writes that “people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.” That is certainly the way Adam treats people in the book. At book’s end, Zapata has also included a list of resources people might use to find out more about Down syndrome and organisations committed to respectful support for, and inclusion of, all people.
Yong Ling Kang digitally created the illustrations for Up and Adam. More vibrantly coloured artwork would better complement the written text. Adam is a vivacious character, and., although he wears an orange shirt, it is washed out and flat. Greater vibrancy would make the artwork more appealing but would also reinforce Adam’s personality. Other than that, the artwork is generally attractive. Indeed, it is somewhat reminiscent of the style of popular illustrator Michael Martchenko. The round, oversized heads feature happy, smiling faces reflective of the joy Adam spreads throughout his community.
Up and Adam is a good book that will appeal to young readers in that it is empowering—everyone (including children) can make a positive impact. It is a book that will also be a useful classroom resource for teachers and librarians looking to broaden the representations of diversity in their book collections.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specializes in children’s literature.